Have you ever seen a Juggling Xylophonist?

I have.

Last night I chose Amsterdam Espresso for the site of my usual Tuesday night write. Although I’ve patronized this cozy little Midtown coffee shop several times, I’ve always managed to miss the many musical performances scheduled throughout the year. But I found one on Tuesday and it was well worth the wait.

Tovio Roberts quietly set up his small amp, acoustic guitar, and what looked like a makeshift xylophone with a small crash cymbal to its right.

With a young female accompanist on violin, Roberts played a soft, almost mournful 45-minute set of dreamy, reverb-haloed folk music. The PA system was admittedly of very poor quality and most of the words were difficult to understand, but Roberts communicated to the audience his deeply moving music with an intensity that was difficult to ignore from behind a book or a cigarette. I certainly couldn’t read or write while he played.

But it was his final song that blew me away. Tovio stepped up to his xylophone and strapped on a harmonica around his neck, Dylan-style. The violin provided rhythm to the dulcet melody he played on the xylophone, holding two drumsticks in his right hand and one in his left. The melody and the calming dinging of the notes were satisfying enough, when suddenly Tovio began juggling the drumsticks while continuing to play the melody. He came down with an occasional hit on the cymbal and then started playing the harmonica while juggling his melody on for two minutes.

Just check out this YouTube video to see what I mean.

Listen to Tovio Roberts’ songs at his Myspace page. I like them all.

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